Tuvalu, a constitutional monarchy in Polynesia, was formerly part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. These islands were under British protection from 1892. Their first stamps were overprinted “Gilbert and Ellice Protectorate”. In a 1976 public referendum, the inhabitants of Tuvalu (formerly Ellice) decided in favor of separation from Gilbert (eventually Kiribati). Their first stamps appeared on January 1st, 1976 –overprints of Gilbert and Ellice Island issues. A second set issued the same day recognized the separation of the islands. Tuvalu became fully independent within the British Commonwealth in 1978. Tuvalu has since issued a number of stamps honoring famous people such as Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, and Elvis.
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